How Top Tech Adviser Jamie Hewitt built a thriving WordPress business
Posted: Tue 17th Dec 2019
Enterprise Nation's new business support platform makes it even easier to connect with experts in your area. To celebrate the launch of the platform, we're profiling some of the advisers that support our community.
This week, we talk to RocketshipWP founder Jamie Hewitt. A long-time member of Enterprise Nation, Jamie was named Top Tech Adviser in the Top 50 Advisers 2019 awards. Find out how RocketshipWP started and some of the challenges Jamie has overcome along the way.
Describe your business in one sentence
RocketshipWP is a boutique agency that specialises in working with independent high street businesses and entrepreneurs to develop their online presence.
What services do you offer?
I offer WordPress web design services for marketing and ecommerce-style sites, SEO and website maintenance. I also offer WordPress training to help people set up and extract the most value from their sites.
What first attracted you to Enterprise Nation?
I first discovered Enterprise Nation when thinking about a career change. I was looking for information and advice that would help me to set up my own business.
I remember seeking out Enterprise Nation because it offered bite-sized training in the evenings, which really suited my diary. What hooked me was the very practical and actionable advice on offer. I ended up attending three or four evening sessions in quick succession on a wide range of topics as a non-member.
After I set up my business, it seemed like an obvious choice to become a member. I really rated the training I'd received and wanted to benefit from the additional resources and networking opportunities the membership offered.
Crucially, given the fact that I was a startup myself, the membership was very reasonably priced. I didn't feel like I was breaking the bank when I signed up!
What Enterprise Nation events have you been involved in and how have they benefited your business?
I've been an Enterprise Nation member for a good few years now. As a result of my membership, I've had access to opportunities that I could never have dreamed of.
I've appeared twice on LBC radio station as a guest expert on The Business Hour, their flagship programme, to talk about web design and SEO. I've contributed to various Enterprise Nation business podcasts and a Facebook Live. I've also delivered a lunchtime online masterclass and talks at numerous startup conferences, including the British Library's Startup Saturday.
Most recently, I entered into the Top 20 Advisers awards and was lucky enough to win the technology category after a public vote.
It's no exaggeration to say that I have picked up business leads and clients from every single event that I have undertaken with Enterprise Nation. This comfortably amounts to several thousand pounds of income.
Some of these leads have even appeared several months down the line from the original speaker engagement. It's incredible to realise just how impactful the Enterprise Nation events have been on those attending. Enterprise Nation membership is easily the best return on investment I have ever made.
You were named the Top Tech Adviser in the Enterprise Nation awards. How did that benefit your business?
This year's Top 50 Adviser awards was an absolutely fantastic opportunity to generate new business leads. The public vote format inspired me to go out to existing clients and run a local media campaign in Balham to garner votes from other high street businesses.
The process helped me to build a much greater local awareness of my business. It gave me a good pretext to follow up with a number of new prospects to discuss my services - some of which has turned into new work.
What challenges have you faced building your own business and how has seeking advice from other experts helped you?
There seem to be two eternal business challenges that I face.
The first challenge is how to market myself effectively, so that I can keep a constant flow of business leads and work coming in. Word of mouth has been very useful, but it's not enough by itself because the lead-in times for new referrals can sometimes be quite slow.
The second challenge is cashflow. Some projects are quick to complete and others are much slower. Dare I say it - some clients don't always pay on time and this sometimes creates extra stress.
One of the biggest benefits of speaking at Enterprise Nation events is the ability to attend other speaker sessions. Over the years, I've picked up quite a few pointers from hearing other guest speakers present on topics like PR and sales. This has helped me to refine my tactics and mitigate some of these challenges.
Running a business can be quite lonely, so it's always reassuring to hear other members and experts sharing stories about similar challenges. It's good to feel like part of a community and share these burdens, rather than being alone.
What business tips do you often give to your clients?
When working with technology, it's important to develop a pragmatic mindset. A website is never truly finished because there is always something that needs doing, whether it's updating your services, altering the price of products or adding new content to educate prospective clients.
If you adopt a pragmatic mindset, you'll be able to launch a professional-looking website much quicker and prioritise any bugs that need fixing. If you adopt a perfectionist mindset, you're probably going to set unrealistic expectations about how the site might look at launch, particularly if you have no background in web design.
These people nearly always find an excuse not to launch their site. Control your perfectionist instincts and be pragmatic.
What's the best piece of advice you've been given that has benefited your own business?
If you're setting up a service-based business then try to position yourself as the local person. When you're selling, mention the word "local" as much as possible! There is a lot of hidden meaning in the word "local".
Local means convenience, accountability and, depending on who you are selling to, financial reciprocity - buying from them in return. I've lost track of the number of cafés and restaurants that have hired me because I was already a trusted local customer.
Anything else you would like to share?
My founder story is slightly unusual. For ten years, I worked as a political lobbyist stalking the halls of Parliament. It means I've met the previous two Prime Ministers and loads of MPs over the years - I even took ex-Conservative leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt on a site visit in Blackpool once!
During my mid-thirties, my girlfriend and I decided we wanted to start a family. As a successful lawyer, she regularly works late into the night. Unless we wanted our child to be raised by strangers - we didn't - we knew that we'd have to make changes. By this point, I was quite disillusioned with politics and was ready to quit.
I've always been interested in technology and had been building websites on the side for about five years. So it seemed like a good idea to turn a hobby into a home-based business.
In 2016, at the age of 35, I took the plunge and handed out some flyers in my local neighbourhood of Muswell Hill, North London. One of the first places I walked into was a local cafe called Flesh & Flour. The owner asked if I built websites, then hired me on the spot.
That's really how my business got off the ground. From there, word spread. I ended up working with a whole host of high street businesses in Muswell Hill and the surrounding area.
Switching careers has been an incredible experience that has really opened up possibilities. My daughter Amelia is nearly two and we have another baby on the way. With my new work-life balance, I can make sure I can do some weekly childcare and nursery runs with my daughter.
From a work perspective, I have a very eclectic list of interesting clients that keeps me busy. There's a multi-award-winning wine shop, a celebrity life coach, a famous economist and a startup working on children's education in Peru. I love the fact that my work brings me into contact with such an interesting range of people from different backgrounds - it's a world away from my old life in politics.
Enterprise Nation members can find out more about the services Jamie Hewitt offers and request a 30-minute taster session with through his profile. Find out more about becoming a Community member to connect with expert advisers or list your services here.